Two little Anglo-Indian children on a visit to England from India, nicknamed 'Punch' and 'Judy', aged six and three, are left with foster-parents in Southsea. There has been little warning that their father and mother are to leave them there. The experience is rendered more traumatic by the fact that their foster-mother, a rigidly fundamentalist Christian, does not take to Punch, who she sees as an undisciplined deceitful little show-off. She encourages her teenage son to bully him. Her husband is kind to Punch, but after a time he dies. Apart from his delight in reading, Punch's life is a misery, and he can see no way out. He has fantasies of killing 'the woman'. After five years the children's mother comes to take them back, and life is happy again, but Punch's trust in the world has been damaged for good.